Mercy Mercy - Belichick Involks the Mercy Rule

<p>The New England Patriots practiced against the Cleveland Browns this weekend. At least that's what it looked like to Patriot fans.</p> <p>By the 3rd quarter, most Browns fans had filed out of a barely filled stadium, as the debacle continued. The Patriots were playing second and third string players vs the Browns starters. Michelle Vitagliano describes how former Browns coach Bill Belichick took his starters out in an effort to have mercy on a team clearly in need of mercy.</p>

Mercy Mercy - Belichick Involks the Mercy Rule
by Michelle Vitagliano,
Fan Commentator

"Thank God!" I believe those were the two blasphemous words that came out of my mouth after the Cleveland Browns scored their second touchdown against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Clearly, I'm no fan of the Browns but for once, I actually felt sorry for a team getting demolished by the Pats. In fact, just before the Browns scored their second of only two touchdowns, I was actually thinking about what the point difference would have to be if the NFL introduced a mercy rule. Without it, the Pats were able to outwit, outlast and outplay the Browns and came out with a 42-15 victory. Now THAT'S reality T.V. Mark Burnett should start thinking about Survivor Foxboro… The All Stars. On a side note, I sort of felt like the first half of yesterday's game was being played on one of those remote Survivor islands when CBS seemed to have trouble with their broadcasting. Did anyone else feel a sudden wave of panic and think something was wrong with your T.V.?

Even with the airwaves temporarily gone wild, it was as clear as day to me that there was no coming back for the Browns who went into the fourth quarter with a 35 point deficit. In fact, the point of no return was reached just fourteen seconds into the game when Bethel Johnson returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. What better way to silence the home crowd than to score against the home team on the opening drive. But the Browns fans were more than silenced. The stadium started clearing out in the third quarter when fans realized that their team had more bark than bite.

The Pat's 11-1 and the Brown's 3-9 records speak for themselves. And even though Pat's head coach Bill Belichick spoke last week about how dangerous the Browns could be, actions speak louder than words and it was the Pat's actions and reactions in Cleveland on Sunday that allowed them to walk away with another win.

Although he may not show emotion, as former head coach of the Browns from 1992 to 1995, Belichick was very likely over the moon with the win and realized early on that the only danger on the field was the Pats offense, defense and special teams who managed to put point on the board. Could you imagine the further blows we would have dealt to the Browns had Roman Phifer, Asante Samuel, Ty Law and Tyrone Poole not been forced to watch from the sidelines due to injuries?

Some nice stats also came from the guys on the field. Randall Gay returned a fumble 41 yards for his first NFL touchdown, Kevin Faulk scored on a 10-yard run, Corey Dillon ran 100 yards on 18 carries and had two touchdowns, Dave Patten caught a 44 yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady and of course, Adam Vinatieri made all six extra points. Rodney Harrison made an incredible one-handed interception and Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel all had one sack each.

Is it getting harder to remember what losing is like? I know it wasn't too long ago that we lost to Pittsburgh on Halloween but even then we were 6-0 going into that game and I don't think anyone was too concerned over the loss.

I wonder how many Pats fans really appreciate this team as much as I do. It's not a contest, I don't want to hold the record for the fan with the most appreciation. I know there are long-time Pats fans who were around when this team was first put together and have been waiting this winning streak out much longer than I have. I'm not old but I feel like I've watched the darkest days of this team turn into a fantasy story and I'm loving every minute of it. I wonder if this is the same feeling all those long time Sox fans had when they won the World Series.

I'm looking at the four teams we're up against for the rest of the regular season (Cincinnati Bengals 6-6, Miami Dolphins 2-10, New York Jets 9-3…ok so that's pretty good but San Francisco 49-ers 1-11) and I'm pretty confident in our chances of beating every one of them. So, I'm keeping my weekends in January plans free and maybe I should start shopping around for cheap flights to Jacksonville around the 6th of February. How unpatriotic of me to not take it one game at a time but I can't help it! All I know is, if they go to the Super Bowl again this year AND win it, well, let's just say we'll have to put a little pressure on our other ACTIVE Boston team so that we can write a book that will go down in history as the greatest sports story ever told.

How appropriate, I was just about to end this piece when my new neighbors decided that now is the perfect time to start their routine screaming match at 1:00 AM. Ahh the sounds of the city… Go Pats!

Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums. Her weekly fan commentary can be found here on the Patriots Insider site, or you can search for her articles on the Insiders by searching for "Michelle Vitagliano". If you're a local, you can find her mostly around the Boston scene on game night, hanging out with her friends.

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